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U.S. Soybean Crop Will Hit Record 46 bu/ac Say Forecasters

August is always the make-or-break month for the U.S. soybean crop. As the final days of July 2014 tick off the calendar, it's becoming clear that statement may never have been truer.

Right now, conditions are shaping up for a monster soybean crop. New analysis from the Commodity Weather Group projects the U.S. soybean crop will yield a record 46.1 bushels/acre. That's 4% above trend nationwide, with states including Illinois, Indiana, and Nebraska expected to raise record-high crops. Overall, the crop will add up to 3.88 billion bushels based on previous USDA acreage estimates.

The outlook is "based on analysis of current crop conditions, vegetative health, and recent rainfall/temperature patterns in conjunction with deviation from trend yields in potentially similar years," according to CWG.

All this comes with a catch, however; it hasn't rained much in the majority of the Corn Belt in the last couple of weeks. And entering August -- the critical month for soybean growth and crop development -- rain is going to have to return to the weather picture if the bin buster that CWG experts expect is to reach fruition.

"If rains falter in August in shallow-rooted areas, yield losses as high as 10% to 20% below trend [are] possible in most problematic areas based on similar cases such as in '08," according to CWG. "Using our current 16- to 30-day outlook, the main risks for negative impacts due to dryness are in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, with more limited risks in Iowa, North Dakota, and Michigan."

If those rains don't fall and those risks become reality, look for a national yield to drop to around 44 bushels per acre. On the other side of the coin, look for yields near 48 bushels per acre, according to CWG, if "sufficient rains manage to occur."

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